When I was a child I was fairly undemanding in terms of expectations, mainly because my parents were kind of miserly in the ‘doting on the kids’ department. But there was one option that was periodically offered and that was a Sunday drive out to the old Vancouver Airport at Sea Island.
I had never been on an airplane in my tender years but I was fascinated watching them take off and land and, well, just seeing them. I didn’t actually get to fly until I was about 16 and that was in a private plane owned by the father of a friend of mine. I loved it, I might add. And since that time I have tried to make up for the lack of flight in my childhood by having flown on innumerable airlines to many amazing places in the world.
And, while I hate the process that this once civilized mode of transport has become – remember when people used to put on their Sunday-go-to-meetin’ duds to take a flight? – I still love hanging around airports. I like the hustle-and-bustle and announcements that nobody can understand, and the wheelie-bags and people from all over the world just a comin’ and goin’.
As a special treat to ourselves when we are off somewhere in the outer world, Wendy and I like to spend a night at the Fairmont Hotel at YVR (what Vancouver Airport quite unpoetically calls itself these days). Then I can get up in the morning, look out the big window of the room and watch the airplanes coming and going from my soundproof vantage point.
There are, of course, many elements of contemporary flying that have become utterly loathsome. I mean, I still like going places and I still like airports, but ‘authorities’ are doing their damnedest to make the process despicable.
One of the most egregious affronts is the rip-offs. These arise from having to pass through security (with all its indignities) to the departure area (from which there is no exit once you are there. And it is the ‘services’ therein that infuriate.
A little over a week ago we had occasion to fly from Ft. Lauderdale to Vancouver, and that included a stop of a few hours at Toronto Airport (which compounded the insult of having to fly via Air Canada). Once we were there we were hungry. The food on the airplane was, to state the case as politely as I can, ‘shit’, so we eschewed the crap and pined for the days when Wardair used to serve meals catered by Hy’s Steakhouse.
But, by the time we got to TO we were hungry and we knew the flight to Vancouver would take five hours. So, we stopped at a sandwich bar and ordered an egg salad sandwich. That was it. Egg salad, bread, and some wilty green stuff that may have been lettuce – once. And the cost of this simple item — $10 – each. Ten bucks for about 75-cents worth of product. Ten dollars is a day’s wage in Cuba. And we were left with no choice because we were trapped in the bowels of a departure area in a butt-ugly faux ‘bauhaus’ inspired terminal.
But, I can’t level all my spleen at Toronto. Virtually every terminal is the same. Rip-offs galore to take advantage of those sequestered therein.
There. Glad to get that off my chest.
And I still like air terminals, provided I am on the outer-world side of the departure area. There is still freedom before you pass into the hands of some creep who decides it would be prudent to do an x-ray scope of an 80-year-old matron for fear she might be a terrorist.